Documentary of the Day – Bowling for Columbine

Before everyone starts calling me un-American for posting this liberal documentary against the pervasive gun culture, let me say that I at least pay my taxes, thus allowing me to harp on America if I want.  Also Free Speech bitches.  Anyways, another Michael Moore selection this time around and probably his best work in my opinion.  While Roger and Me was the foot in the door to the surprise interview documentary, Bowling for Columbine is a well reasoned and thought provoking on the subject of gun culture in America.

“Bowling for Columbine” is an alternately humourous and horrifying film about the United States. It is a film about the state of the Union, about the violent soul of America. Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? The talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? What sets us apart? How have we become both the master and victim of such enormous amounts of violence? This is not a film about gun control. It is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States, and the 280 million Americans lucky enough to have the right to a constitutionally protected Uzi.

From a look at the Columbine High School security camera tapes to the home of Oscar-winning NRA President Charlton Heston, from a young man who makes homemade napalm with The Anarchist’s Cookbook to the murder of a six-year-old girl by another six-year-old, “Bowling for Columbine” is a journey through America, and through our past, hoping to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence. via – Official Site

I remember that a lot of people thought this was some left-wing propaganda about gun control, when it’s really not even about that.  I think the intentions of the documentary was to showcase the violence that is prevalent in our culture, but ended up uncovering that truth that guns are just so easy to get.  The documentary certainly struck a nerve with Americans as it highlighted how violence is so engrained in our culture that we are shocked when it manifests in school violence.  Instead of blaming and finger pointing, Moore offers up an insightful look into our past history, current policies, and cultural landscape that might explain why violence occurs.

The chilling aspect of this documentary is what feeds into the notion of gun ownership and the spread of guns in society.  He goes into a bank, opens an account, gets a background check and leaves with a rifle.  Interviewees all comment about how easy it is to get a gun in their town and how fear is playing a part in getting us to be frenzied enough to arm ourselves.  He points that even with a culture of video game violence, dark music and violent being found in all countries in the world, America still leads the world in gun deaths, despite proponents pointing the finger for gun violence to those previously mentioned items.

What comes from his interviews and research is that we are built on a steady diet of fear.  We get into wars because we believe that it is the right thing to do to stop future attacks on us.  Our media has a constant feed of war, violence, and death, continuously barraging and invading our senses.  Local news outlets hype up violent crimes and it is this consistent stream of violence and fear that he believes leads us into accepting the notion of arming ourselves.  Sure, it is our constitutional right to bear arms, but when we use those arms to harm others, is it really worth it.

I think the documentary does have some shortcomings, mainly from a sensationalistic angle that Moore takes to play up violence and showcase this bloodlust that we have in America.  There are some logic steps relating violence to a nearby Lockheed plant that makes rockets to bomb other countries as this passive acceptance of perceived violence.  I can see that this will insight harsh criticism, but the fact that it gets us talking about this subject is much needed in our culture.  He is able to show us the reflection of our culture and constant scapegoating to get us to laugh at us, but also to bring to light our scary culture.

I find the fact that this movie was rated R by the MPAA to be insulting.  The documentary doesn’t have graphic violence or many naughty words, but it’s almost this indictment against the subject of the film.  There are some images of violence, but the MPAA decided that it is important to protect children from violence, thinking that this movie might cause them to go out and commit school shootings.  In actuality, this is a movie that they need to see.  To understand that the consequences of violence is far reaching and understand that there are ways to stop this.  It’s a mosaic of history and guns, which does a better job at informing us about gun culture and adding a bit o levity to it.  It is one of the most insightful documentaries out there that challenges us to view ourselves as part of the problem for gun violence, instead of pointing fingers to phantom figures.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

One Response to Documentary of the Day – Bowling for Columbine

  1. Pete says:

    Great film, definitely Moore’s best in my opinion. Funny, unsettling, upsetting and insightful, It’s a great example of what documentary can be if it wants to appeal to a mass audience. And also lead to that great Oscar speech!

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